holiday ladies lunch

I’ve talked about it a lot, but having friends is really important. Moving as much as we do, it is hard to make new friends and keeping the friendships that you do make needs be a priority. I’ve made some wonderful friendships here in Cape Cod, and a small group of women try to go out to lunch together once a week. We are all really busy, but it is important to us, so we make it happen. I wanted to do something nice for my friends, so I had a very casual holiday ladies lunch at my house to celebrate the holidays. It was a great way to spend the afternoon before it gets really crazy for us.

I sort of get made fun of have a reputation for making everything myself. It is in good fun, because this particular group of friends doesn’t really like to cook. I get that. Not all people love spending time in the kitchen. It is my happy place, but I am not going to avoid having people over for a meal just because I didn’t make everything myself. For this lunch to happen during a particularly busy work week, I took some help to be able to have a three-course lunch that was accomplished with very little effort on my part. I stopped at Sam’s Club and picked up a few things to help me out.

holiday ladies lunch

Last winter I had a cooking night at my house and the thing that I got the most questions about was my vanilla extract. I wanted to give my friends a little gift, so I made them their own bottles to take home with them. I also took their

I also took their family pictures this year, so I have a print made and put it in a frame for them. Before I left the house, I uploaded my pictures to my store’s photo center so that I could pick them up when I walked in. I put them in a frame and they got to take home both little treats.

homemade bourbon vanilla extract

Making your own vanilla extract is so easy. You just need some alcohol (this time I am using bourbon, but vodka works too), vanilla beans, and bottles. I order my vanilla beans in bulk from Beanilla. I use vanilla beans in a lot of recipes, so I buy a 1/2 pound at a time.

homemade bourbon vanilla extract

I use 3 beans per bottle. Split them in half, but not cutting all the way to the top.

homemade bourbon vanilla extract

Drop 3 beans into each bottle.

homemade bourbon vanilla extract

Pour over bourbon. Put the cap and on give a good shake. Shake it every couple of days and it should be at max flavor in about 4 weeks.

homemade bourbon vanilla extract

I found these really cute napkins at Homegoods, and they came in a pack of 12 and I love them. They wash beautifully and add just a touch of red to make it festive.

holiday ladies lunch

I knew that I was going to be making a salad, but I bought some help in the appetizer and dessert department.

holiday ladies lunch

I like to have a cheese tray whenever I have people over. I’m not big on appetizers because I focus on the main course, but a cheese tray buys me some time if it isn’t quite ready when guests arrive. I jazz it up with some jams or chutneys, nuts, and fancy crackers. Set it on the table and people can help themselves.

holiday ladies lunch

I bought some delicious little desserts. The triangles are cheesecakes – and divine. I also think that these baby macarons are so pretty and colorful and look beautiful on a platter.

holiday ladies lunch

If you are local, this is a spin on my favorite Wensleydale salad from the BBC.

holiday ladies lunch

And of course I had Cranberry Cuddle on the stove. The colors are so perfect for the holidays.

holiday ladies lunch

I bought a $10 bunch of flowers from the grocery store and stole a few votives from around the house and I think that the table looked feminine, pretty, and festive.

holiday ladies lunch

Sam’s Club gave me a gift card to use to host this lunch for my friends. All opinions are 100% my own. Sam’s Club offers a 200% satisfaction guarantee on high-quality produce, meat and baked goods.  Try their Club Pickup a free service that is focused on making shopping more convenient for members. Club Pickup provides an easy and quick pickup option through seamless ordering online at SamsClub.com from any computer or mobile device. The service is available at all 653 Sam’s Club locations. You can follow along in the holiday fun by following the hashtag #SamsClubHoliday.